Safe in Sound is a completely appropriate title for the latest album by folk duo Frances Luke Accord. The Indiana-based group comprising Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers write a style of immaculately harmonized folk music that feels like a warm, comforting blanket being wrapped around you, even at their most experimental. It’s impossible not to feel safe listening to these acoustic hymns written for all seasons. In just the opener “Window”, with plays with the Arabic scale in the opening chords, the mood shifts from winter to summer as the melodies brighten and the choral vocals bring a soothing sunniness to the track.
While Simon & Garfunkel laid the foundation for this style of music, FLA could more easily be compared to modern groups like Kings of Convenience and Fleet Foxes in their folk-based, acoustic songwriting and poetic songwriting (“Power in the tome, marrow from the bone. Young by being old, this is what we’re told” from “Dust to Dust”, one of many songs whose meaning can be left to interpretation). This isn’t to say the group are copycats; FLA certainly tread their own path, showing they aren’t afraid of delving into eerier territories (the fiddle on “Sunnyside” flirts with dissonance, becoming unsettling at times), though their tracks generally don’t wander into any unnecessary atonal artiness.
For the most part, this is an album of warm beauty and cosmic pondering. The banjo-soaked “Maria”, where Gunty muses “if the sun goes dark someday, and all the stars fall out from space”, or on “This Morning”, where he delicately sings “The distance in space, all moving along. Our time and our place all vanish at dawn.” show that the duo have plenty of weightier subjects on their minds, and they make these thoughts go down easily through their folk pop arrangements. They build dreamy soundscapes (see the atmospheric instrumental “Cloudy”), with only occasional digital additions (the pained and heartbreaking “Saint Mary”, one of the album’s best tracks).
And while never close to dance music, “All the Things” is definitely a wistful, bluegrass toe-tapper, and their collaboration with musical peers Darlingside on “In My Life” is a jaunty number with a gorgeous choral ending that musically connects to “The Only Living Boy in New York”.
This is an album for all seasons, and one you’ll find yourself coming back to throughout the year. Listen to album today right here.